This week Californians learned some incredible news - the case of the Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist or Original Night Stalker, has broken wide open. And it's been a long time coming - the Golden State Killer terrorized the state from the mid-1970s to 1986. During that period, this serial predator killed at least 12 people and raped upwards of 50 across the length of California, from Sacramento and the Bay Area to Santa Barbara and Orange County.
On Tuesday morning Sacramento Sheriff's deputies and FBI agents arrested 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo on charges of murder, stemming from the 1978 double homicide of husband and wife Brian and Katie Maggiore in Rancho Cordova. Although he had never been a suspect in the case in all the years prior, law enforcement says new forensic technologies enabled investigators to make a DNA match between old evidence from the killer's crimes and DeAngelo.
Many of us remember the fear that paralyzed our communities when the Golden State Killer was preying upon our neighborhoods, and some of us have our own stories from that time. I even remember incidents from my own experience, when everyone was on edge. In 1977, the time period when the East Area Rapist was terrorizing Sacramento, my wife and I were housesitting for my cousin in an area where the East Area Rapist was known to be active. In the middle of the night, we were awakened from sleeping by a phone call: my cousin was on the other line, saying that the house's silent alarm system had been triggered - someone was breaking in through the garage. We called the Sheriff's office. I grabbed my shotgun and prepared for the worst. After the Sheriff arrived we discovered that the door to the garage had been pried open. Thankfully the door from the garage into the house had not been breached. The intruder fled before the Sheriff deputies arrived, and we were safe.
Joseph DeAngelo is now in custody, and he'll have his day in court. Victims and their families will make their voices heard when justice is delivered, and I can only wish them peace and recovery. Several decades later, we can know that the Golden State Killer's reign of terror is over.